Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws

State Officials and Experts Applaud New Report that Evaluates Medical Marijuana Programs Nation-wide

Patient Advocates Hope Report will Help State Legislators “Make the Grade” in 2016

By Americans for Safe Access

(Washington, D.C.) – Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued “Medical Marijuana Access in the US: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,” today. The annual report evaluates the array of differing state medical cannabis programs across the country from a perspective often overlooked in policy debates: the patients’ and provides policy makers with model legislation and regulations. With dozens of states already seeing legislative and regulatory proposals in 2016, this groundbreaking report will provide state lawmakers with timely tools they need to improve their medical cannabis programs to truly meet the needs of the patients they are meant to serve.

Eighty-one percent of Americans favor the legalization of medical marijuana according to a May 7, 2015, Harris Poll. This broad support has led to unprecedented progress in state medical marijuana programs in 2015. Nineteen states introduced legislation to legalize medical marijuana during the year. In addition, many of the twenty three states with current medical marijuana laws passed legislation to expand or improve their programs in 2015, including New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, California, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Other states, like Nevada and Vermont, expanded and improved their programs through new regulations.

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Was Anchoring Medical to Recreational in Ohio Bad for Patients?

By Mike Liszewski, Americans for Safe Access

By now, everyone in the medical marijuana reform movement has seen the results in Ohio, where the commingled recreational and medical cannabis voter initiative (Issue 3) put forth by ResponsibleOhio was defeated at the polls by a nearly 2:1 margin. Aside from sanctimonious hand wringing from recreational proponents treating patient access as a political weapon against those who had concerns with the implications of Issue 3’s licensing structure (which has been talked about ad nauseam and won’t be discussed in detail here), nobody has yet asked the question, “is it fair to patients to anchor their safe and legal access to a measure that also includes non-medical use?” Given the 2:1 failure of recreational couple with the fact that support for medical-only was 84% in at least one recent state poll (28 points higher than Issue 3 in the same poll), it seems like safe access was doomed more by the anchoring to recreational than the non-merit based oligopoly.

ASA has long maintained a position of neutrality on the issue on recreational cannabis reform, and only evaluates them based on their impact upon patients. As an organization, ASA did not come out for or against Issue 3 based largely on its recreational focus, but looking at the polling data, it seems extremely likely that the commingling of recreation held medical back from passing.

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Ohio Cannabis Legalization Initiative – A Cautionary Tale for California

By Lanny Swerdlow, RN

Receiving scant attention from marijuana legalization advocates and just about zero attention in the national media, voters in Ohio will be deciding on a very controversial marijuana legalization initiative this November. It is a cautionary tale that the backers of California’s multiple marijuana legalization initiatives should be paying close attention to.

Issue 3 submitted by ResponsibleOhio would amend the constitution legalizing both the medical and personal use of marijuana for persons 21 years and older. Personal users may possess up to one ounce and may cultivate up to four plants. Most importantly local bans are not permitted.

A five percent tax will be imposed on retail sales and a 15 percent tax imposed on licensed “Marijuana Growth, Cultivation and Extraction” (MGCE) facilities. It is these MGCEs that are the main cause of consternation over the initiative by marijuana advocates and the state legislature albeit with different motives.

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